Monday, 4 July 2011

How do we know an expert when we see one?

What is an expert and how do we know one when we see one? I have been pondering this question while editing Relu's latest policy and practice note on "Field advisors as agents of knowledge exchange". It seems so simple: if you an advisor, you learn stuff then you pass it on to your clients. But nothing in life is ever that straightforward. Relu researchers have put the whole process under a microscope, and shown how the people who advise farmers: vets, land agents, ecologists and so on, digest and repackage information and tailor it to specific client needs and circumstances. That means no two farmers will necessarily get the same advice about anything, even from the same expert advisor. Vets are also innovative experimenters and bring science into the field of their everyday practice. So being an expert doesn't just mean putting on a green jacket and wellingtons. As the "models" who posed for the photograph on the front of this Relu publication would tell you, nowadays you also need a laptop computer in order to look convincing.

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